Mark Hardy could hardly believe what he saw after entering his quarry on January 11 – a trail of destruction.
Piles of basalt sealing aggregate had been mixed with clay, conveyor belts and electrical equipment had been cut and gear boxes had been tampered with.
Mr Hardy had won the contract to supply material for general sealing works for the Kangaroo Island Council, with trucks coming to collect the product on Monday, January 11.
The truck arrived within 15 minutes of Mr Hardy opening the gates and had to leave without the 2000 tons of sealing aggregate with a market value of $72,000.
“The stockpiles were mixed up and contaminated, I estimate that it would have taken three to four hours to do it in my loader,” Mr Hardy said.
“They mixed in clay or whatever they could find. It will have to be redone from scratch.”
Mr Hardy says the perpetrator brought their own key which acts just like a master key on the same type of machine.
He also said it was clear the person knew what they were doing to inflict maximum amount of possible damage.
“The person who did it knew crushers. They knew what to hit and it was done very well,” Mr Hardy said.
“They did a very thorough job on some piles and rushed others, though, which makes me think they had a set time for somebody to pick them up.”
Damage to the conveyor belts, gear boxes and electrical wires has meant Mr Hardy has been unable to restart production, losing thousands of dollars in an industry where productivity is restricted to the dry months of summer.
“I’m lucky to have had stockpiles to sell, I haven’t been in production all month,” he said.
“If we’d have kept running, I probably would have produced nearly 3000 tons of rubble, and that would have kept me going for the winter.
“All of my clients have been very good as has the general community. Lots of people have come out to offer a hand.
“I would like to thank all of my clients who have been very loyal and understanding and Anna Osman who is the asset program manager for Kangaroo Island Council who has been extremely professional.”
A clause was written into the contract with Council penalising the supplier $2000 per day the materials were not ready – which Mr Hardy says contributed to the timing of the incident.
“It’s pretty obvious whoever did this hoped it would invoke the clause,” he said.
With the costs of damaged equipment and product, and the lack of capacity to continue producing, Mr Hardy’s damage costs will likely exceed $100,000.
“It has been well thought out to do maximum damage,” he said.
The attacks have proven persistent since the major break-in, again causing more damage to Mr Hardy’s property on February 11, by cutting a conveyor belt, and another attempt at destruction over the weekend.
“Police are investigating whether three recent incidents at the quarry are linked,” Kangaroo Island Sergeant Robert Scurrah said.
“As the matter is an ongoing investigation, no further details can be provided at this time.”
Mr Hardy arrived at his quarry to find two metres cut out of a conveyor belt, but said he had a spare belt and was up and running again by 10.30 that morning.
Despite these persistent attacks on Mr Hardy’s business, he remains determined to continue working.
“Clearly it’s designed to put me out of business, but I like a good fight and I’m going to dig in,” he said.
“I have no intentions of leaving the industry.”